Aug 23, 201204:19 PM
Swing Set: Cruising Full Time
Demopolis Yacht Basin
We spent a whole day in the Cochrane Cut-Off. The river was calm in the anchorage there, and we only say two barges and one jon boat. The two annoying things were that the crickets and cicadas were in a vocal mood and serenaded us the whole time. I am a firm believer that if the insects would all get together with a plan, they could drive us all nuts. All they need is organization. There was also an airport nearby, and planes did stunt maneuvers all day. It would have been fun to watch, but we couldn't see any planes due to the trees and clouds, just heard the constant roar of their engines.
Swing Set got a good bath, in and out, from Rosie, and my contribution to our floating society was a little Lexan bracket that I pop-riveted to the radar screen cover so I can hold one of the guides we are using. A pop-rivet tool is a good thing to have on the boat, along with a drill, sander, soldering iron, Dremel tool and jig-saw. This is the short list.
We left our anchorage at around 9 a.m. on Wednesday and had a pretty long travel day, arriving at the Demopolis Yacht Basin at almost 5 p.m. Diesel fuel was $3.59 per gallon, and we took on 133 gallons. We didn't need it, but I won't pass on fuel that cheap. We filled up our water tank, too, and dumped our trash.
I talked to the fuel barge attendant at length, along with the captain of one of the tow boats fueling up at the dock there. The tow boat was taking on 10,000 gallons. Can you imagine? I asked about the restaurant there at the marina and was told the food was pretty good. Sounded like a right fitting endorsement to me. The place didn't look fancy, and that is right up our alley.
The New Orleans Bar and Grill seemed like the perfect place to end our day and get a nice cold beer in some air conditioning, so we both took quick showers, left Holly on the boat tied to the fuel dock and walked up to the restaurant. We took a seat at a booth, ignoring my rule about meeting more people at the bar than anywhere, but after making a quick survey of the scene, I asked Rosie if she wouldn't rather sit at the bar. I'm not sure if the nice waitress minded, but we told her we'd rather have a seat at the bar where two fellas were there and gave us a friendly hello.
First things first were two Bud Lights at Happy Hour prices, and then Rosie ordered Southwest Chicken and Shrimp. Shrimp and Grits was the special, so I had to try them, since I liked them so much at the Docks at Goose Pond. Our bartender, Lane, kept us supplied with cold beers, and she was fun to chat with, too.
I took this picture of Swing Set sitting at the fuel dock before the camera battery went dead again. Demopolis Yacht Basin is right on the river and is the perfect fuel stop, and we were about to find out how nice the folks we met in the restaurant were also.
Lane found out we were in need of a couple of cases of Bud Light and offered to have her mother pick some up for us, as she was about to arrive at the bar with some ice cream so Lane could make some specialty shots, the name of which I have already forgotten. We declined her offer about the same time one of the regulars came in and joined us and the other two fellas. We quickly met Tom; his family has lived in Demopolis for five generations and has a business there that he runs with his 82-year-old dad. Tom was trading conversations with us and the other two regulars at the bar when they started talking about college football, and since they found out we were from St. Louis, they admitted as to how they liked the idea that Mizzou was now in their conference, the SEC.
The older man at the bar, Mr. Ed, asked me how big Missouri was. I had lost the thread of the conversation, and I thought he meant how big in size Missouri was. I had just enough beers to answer that on the last map I looked at, it was about "this big" and drew my fingers in a fine circle. Then, I added that, "but on one map, it was this tiny," pulling just my thumb and forefinger into a smaller shape. Luckily, they found my smart ass amusing, but then proceeded to ask how far was it from St. Louis to Kansas City. I quickly responded that it was 256 miles. Mr. Ed answered that he thought is was much further than that, but I shot back that maybe it was a lot further when all they had was wagon trails to take a person from one side of the state to another, but we have an interstate highway now. We were all laughing at that one, and then Mr. Ed came down and introduced himself properly and said it was certainly a pleasure meeting us.
That's Tom on the left, then Lane. I don't know the other bums. We were likely to not get out of the place; Lane supplied us with a free shot of her specialty drink for the night, and Tom bought us a round of beers. If it wasn't for Tom having to leave to go pick up his daughter, we might be there still. Lane's mom had to take the picture because our camera shot craps. Lane emailed the picture right on the spot, so I could use it here.
We said our goodbyes and traded business cards. Tom told us about a book about the building of the lock and dam system on the Mississippi, and as soon as I get done writing this blog post, I'm ordering it from Amazon. It's called "The Rising Tide" by John Berry.
It was dusk as we headed about a mile down the river to Foscue Creek, and it was dark when I pulled off of the channel into a narrow opening in the trees. I knew there was a Coast Guard vessel moored up the creek, so I figured depths were no problem. I used the chartplotter and depth finder to good advantage, and we dropped the anchor just past a huge Coast Guard tow boat.
Our plan was for a full day of travel, and this morning I was up at 5 a.m. I checked for some anchorages down river on Active Captain and printed a screen shot, so I could find them later. Rosie got up, too, and I called the lock that was just down from Foscue Creek. They had us on the list, and we sailed right on into the lock by 6 a.m., still dark.
Once we were secure to a bollard, the lockmaster asked me for our vessel documentation number. I told him I'd have to go below to get it, but I added that he was the first person besides the Coast Guard or Water Patrol to ever to ask me for that information. He said to never mind, and he locked us on through in nothing flat.
The sun was just starting to peek out as we left the lock chamber. This is the spillway below the Demopolis Lock. It was a pretty sight with the fog rising from the water. I would advise anyone to make a stop at Demopolis, if you ever pass that way.
We cruised for 10 hours today and are currently sitting just above our last lock on the Tenn-Tom, Coffeeville Lock at mile 116. The Alabama River comes in at mile 45, and we are going to pull in there for a day or two until we see what Tropical Storm Isaac is going to do. There is no point in heading further south into the eye of a possible hurricane, so sitting tight up here in the river is the easiest thing to do. Tom from Demopolis said the Alabama River was a good boating river with lots of sand bars. We are familiar with such places and can make good use of them, especially on a weekend.
Update: After weighing all the options, we are indeed going to stay above the Coffeeville Dam until Isaac passes and go to Bobby's Fish Camp for dinner tomorrow night on Rosie's birthday. We are off the channel on a good hook, and the lock master has no problem with us being here, just upstream from the "No Boats Past This Point" signs. I am but a fool if I don't take the advice of someone who has passed this way more than once. Thank you all for your concerns sent to us on Facebook and they are heeded. Now, where's the rum?
I got another email today from a blog reader who invited us to give him a shout when we get past his house some day. Jay lives in Seneca, Ill., on the river, and wondered if we were going to do the Loop. If so, he told us to drop by. I wish I had a way to remind me of all the folks who make similar offers, but I don't know how I would keep track of everyone. We get one or two invites like this per week. I always tell them to keep an eye on the blog and give us a shout when we are approaching their area. We missed one very nice man this week at Midway Marina, as we were already past him when he let us know we were in his area. We are sorry to miss anyone, but it's going to happen that way sometimes.